The scarcity of work opportunities for people in rural areas is leading to the mass departure of youth from the countryside. This shortage of opportunities has also been rightly identified as breeding ground for crime driven by poverty.
Activist and multimedia journalist, Comfort Mussa expressed the need to expand youth-friendly government initiatives to the hinterland, to stem the exodus from the countryside and its negative effects.
Journalists with more than 15 years of experience covering and protecting women and ethnic minorities shared their views on the country’s underdevelopment and rural migration in the Press Hour program of the national television station.
Her remarks were a response to a speech by the head of state, Paul Biya on Youth Day, where he cited, among other things, promises of employment and support for young people.
“I will, as in the past, prioritize the development of our educational system, with further emphasis on professionalism,” the head of state had promised.
Comfort Mussa explained that this movement, like other initiatives launched by the Ministry of Youth through its agencies, has had little or no impact on those in rural areas.
“Because of lack of basic social amenities, like roads and electricity. They can’t even hear about it let alone participate or benefit,” she says.
She adds that she listened to the speech and was happy with the promises made but many youths are unlikely to benefit.
She notes that the situation is worse than it seems, with communities outside of major cities and regional capitals suffering from severe shortages of social amenities. For her, the lack of roads, electricity, internet connections, proper health care, education facilities and a host of other necessities makes these areas less attractive and strengthens the argument in favor of rural urban migration of young people seeking to survive.
She narrates the impossibility of young people feeling at ease in areas without electricity such as Furu- Awa, Misaje and Nkambe where people climb on trees or on mountain tops just to get connected to network. Nkambe has been without electricity in the last two years or more.
“For most of these youths,” she noted, “the only opportunity they are looking for, is to leave the village and go to town and this is not the kind of future we want to create for Cameroonian youths. We want Cameroonian youths to have access to quality information, training, and employment wherever they may be, so we are not getting the rural exodus we have.”
The promises made by the head of state were to her plentiful and tasteful, but unfulfillable for the average Cameroonian youth.
Addressing young people on the eve of February 11, President Biya as always, announced a plan to revive and diversify the economy, aimed at boosting youth employment. During the speech, he reminded the population of programs such as the urban and rural youth program (PAJER U), the national youth observatory program among others.
According to President Biya these programs which allow youth to get access to capital of at least CFA F 1.5 million ($2,431) will lead to better jobs for young people.